Friday, May 9, 2014

Being a kid again

Last night, I helped host EdTech Women Austin (@etwaustin) at the Thinkery, Austin's new and improved children's museum. Once a month, they host a 21 and up night, focusing on a specific theme. In honor of National Bike to Work month, last night's was focused on bikes. They had bike races, rooms to learn how to change flat tires and learn about gears, and more! As I looked around, I saw the kid in each person ready to come out - excited about learning; ready to create.

Some companies have also noticed this and have transformed their work spaces to be more like that - to make employees feel ready to create. However, I have not seen this at secondary schools. In fact, the joke has been that, once you get out of early elementary, you lose that time to play. You lose that time to explore. Why is that? Yes, the core subjects are crucial, but don't you need that ability to explore to innovate? Do we want to produce a generation of workers who can regurgitate information, but have lost the time to explore and create?

I know I was guilty of doing this as a teacher. I'd introduce a new concept, the students would get excited, and I'd immediately stifle that by telling them how it SHOULD be used. Often, I think - how would it be different if I gave them a few minutes to explore before announcing the assignment? Would they be able to give me ideas? Would they feel more creative? More innovative?

When I teach teachers, I forget this from time to time too, but it is important not to. It is essential that we give all learners the chance to explore before telling them how something should be done. How can you give your students that time to play? How can you give them that time to explorer? How can you produce innovators?

I am ready to go back to the land of play and explore!

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